Sunday, November 13, 2016

Unique mix of biblical models, innovation tools & Australasian case studies

builtforchange Here is a 7th review of my book, Built for Change. This one is by Rev Dr Darren Cronshaw. There is a longer, 750 word version, being submitted to an academic journal, but the highlight version reads wonderfully.

Built for Change goes beyond rhetoric and explores case studies, theological reflection and reflective practice of how innovation can be collaboratively fostered. As an out-of-the-box thinker, Baptist pastor, and Uniting and now Presbyterian theological educator, Steve Taylor emphasises that innovation at its best is a collaborative team project, facilitated by systematic and careful process. The book is a model of clear writing, careful structure and practical theology from a reflective practitioner. It will be recommended reading or textbook in some units I am writing and I have personally ordered a dozen copies as presents for colleagues in theological education and mission training, so I think I can say with integrity that I count this as highly recommended.

Darren Cronshaw
- Mission Catalyst – Researcher, Baptist Union of Victoria www.buv.com.au
- Head of Research and Professor of Missional Leadership, Australian College of Ministries www.acom.edu.au
- Pastor, AuburnLife Baptist Church www.auburn.org.au
- Adjunct Professor, Swinburne Leadership Institute

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com. Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here. Review 5 is here. Review 6 is here.

Posted by steve at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Thornton Blair Research Fellow: Christian Education

Thornton Blair Research Fellow: Christian Education

Do you have high quality research skills, experience in the design of higher education and a passion for educational formation for Christian leadership?

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership (KCML) is seeking a uniquely gifted person to undertake action research in education design. This will involve undertaking qualitative research among key stakeholders, designing adult education delivery mechanisms and piloting the delivery of education in Christian leadership.

The Research Fellow will deliver a project that helps KCML clarify how to provide postgraduate educational formation for Christian leadership. Specifically to
1. Publish research into re-reforming post-graduate ministry and mission practice in contemporary contexts
2. Design education material that meets both stakeholder needs and higher education accreditation frameworks
3. Develop a strategic plan for education delivery
4. Initiate pilot projects, with stakeholder feedback.

The successful applicant will have experience in Christian education, project management and the use of qualitative methodologies in social sciences. They will have demonstrable skills in theological reflection, the ability to work collaboratively with diverse stakeholders and excellent verbal and written skills, including research and writing.

It is desirable that they have experience in post-graduate accreditation in higher education and teaching in online environments.

This is envisaged as a fixed term (22 months), part-time (0.6) position. Start date is February 2017 and is subject to a final confirmation of funding. The successful applicant need not live in Dunedin, provided they can demonstrate how they might build and sustain strong working relationships with the KCML team.

KCML especially welcomes applications that will enable it to meet its commitments to being a bi-cultural and intercultural church.

Applications close 9 am, Monday, 5 now 12 December, 2016 (7 day extension due to GA and Kaikoura earthquake). They must include a CV; a letter of application addressing the essential and desirable criteria and two references.

Enquiries to Rev Dr Steve Taylor
Principal, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership
principal@knoxcentre.ac.nz

Posted by steve at 07:22 AM

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Presbytery partnerships

In June, the Council of Assembly of the Presbyterian Church strongly endorsed the KCML Strategic plan. One of the five key directions is Presbytery partnerships.

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Presbytery partnerships: KCML wish to establish teaching partnerships with each Presbytery. Each will be individualised, given the unique needs of each Presbytery. They will include shared commitments and timelines around the location of New Mission Seedlings and teaching sites for the National Learning Diploma. This move will help KCML be national, forming intentional training relationships with Presbyteries.

To enact this part of the strategic plan is likely to involve three steps

  • Introduction of plan to Presbyteries (of which in New Zealand there are 7: 5 geographic Presbyteries and 2 Synods that in order to be Synods are each a Presbytery)
  • Clarification of the individualised relationship, through a Memorandum of Understanding that might include a 5 year Presbytery training plan and structures by which to innovate around New Mission Seedlings
  • Delivery, with feedback loops

On Saturday I engaged with Northern Presbytery. For 20 minutes I provided some mission framing, for another 20 minutes I shared the 5 parts of the KCML strategic plan and for a final 20 minutes I sought feedback – what excites and what concerns.

The feedback was overwhelming positive, with the Moderator noting how much it helped the elders and ministers of Presbytery to know that challenges are being recognised and that alternative ways forward as a church are being enacted.

Saturday’s conversation brings to five (out of 7) such conversations – held either with Presbytery Councils or a full Presbytery – since the Strategic plan was approved just over 5 months ago. That’s encouraging progress.

While there is much work still to be done – in clarification and in delivery – it is great to be out and about like this around the church nationally. It is a privilege to be given this type of access and to see the diverse parts of the church at work.

Posted by steve at 06:35 PM

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

art resourcing ministry: 3 images that shape my practice

I drove six hours yesterday, to Geraldine, to spend time resourcing a Ministers cluster. They meet regularly every few months and had asked me tto engage with them for about 4 hours, either side of lunch. After some back and forth with the organisors, I decided I would offer three art pieces that had been important in shaping my understanding of ministry. I had not done this before. But my sense was that the space created by art, along with the mix of story, would add value to a group of ministers who need themselves some space to reflect.

I suggested a repeated sequence, in which we would engage in the following process.
- silence to appreciate the art
- discussion of what we noticed in the art
- my story of why the art was important and how is shaped my ministry
- discussion together of the implications for ministry

I offered three pieces (one was a pair).

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First, (the top of the photo) an original illustration from Bodge Plants a Seed: A Retelling of the Parable of the Sower, which Simon Smith had gifted to me when I began in ministry at Opawa Baptist. This opened up a rich conversation about leadership as gardening, a set of practices in which we attend to what God has already gifted. (More on this is in my book, Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership).

Second, (the bottom of the photo), some art by Kees de Kort, from Picturing Christian Witness: New Testament Images of Disciples in Mission, 146-8. This opened up conversation about mission that originates with God. It requires partnership, in which we locate ourselves not as initiators and holders of Scripture, but as guests and interpreters.

Third, John Lavery’s Anna Pavlova The Red Scarf paired with a photo of a girl seeking to imitate the dancer. This allowed a even richer conversation about God as the dancer and how we understand formation. It included reflection on the role of gender, to which I offered the followed resources, a compilation of some writing I did during sabbatical in 2012.

Women’s Faith Development: Patterns and Processes (Explorations in Practical, Pastoral and Empirical Theology), by Nichola Slee, suggests that our notions of faith development can reflect a male bias. Her work emerges from interviews with 30 women, which resulted in some 1500 pages of transcribed interviews. She then read these narratives alongside a number of conversation partners – faith development theory and women’s spirituality. She suggests these women develop through a three part process,
• of alienation
• of awakenings
• of relationality

She then makes four broad applications, to those in formal theological education, to those involved in any educational or pastoral care context in church life, to women’s networks and groupings.

First, to ground practice in women’s experience. She suggests making a priority of more inductive and experiential approaches to education. She also suggesting bringing to greater visibility women’s lives. (A simple check list I used in this regard, when I used to preach regularly, was check my sermon illustrations and quotes to make sure I had gender balance, as many women examples as men).

Second, create relational and conversational spaces, for “women’s spirituality was profoundly relational in nature, rooted in a strong sense of connection to others, to the wider world and to God as the source of relational power.” (Women’s Faith Development, 173) Slee suggests we look at our environments, ways to create circles not rows, and processes by which everyone speaks no less than once and no more than twice.

Third, foregrounding of imagination, given “the remarkable linguistic and metaphoric creativity of women as they seek to give expression to their struggles to achieve authentic selfhood, relationships with others, and connectedness to ultimate reality.” (Women’s Faith Development, 175). She notes historically how much of women’s theology was embedded in poetry, hymnody, craft forms and popular piety. So we need to find ways to weave this into our “reading” and our talking. “Yet educators need to go beyond the use of such artistic resources to the active encouragement of learners to engage in artistry as a way of exploring and discerning truth.” (Women’s Faith DevelopmentWomen’s Faith Development, 178) Slee is aware that these suggestions are not new. But from her experience of (British) theological institutions, there is room for growth.

A second perspective comes from Ann Phillips, The Faith of Girls: Children’s Spirituality and Transition to Adulthood She asks what Lo-ruhamah in Hosea 1, Namaan’s wife’s slave girl in 2 Kings 5, the slave girl in Philippi in Acts 16, Jarius daughter in the Gospels, have in common?

First, they are pre-pubescent girls. Second, they are agents of new theology. God is made more real, more understandable, more present, through these girls. This is so consistent with Jesus, who takes children in his arms and reminds us that keys to God’s Kingdom are found in them.

Phillips notes that most theologies of childhood have been written by men. She interviews 17 young girls, seeking to understand their faith development. Anne argues for a “wombing” theology as an approach to faith development. It protects and so the need for a “home space.” It enables play, in which the one being birthed is free, away from adult control, to work at their identity. It connects. Regarding church, “membership of a cohort was not enough for the girls to feel a sense of belonging. Intergenerational sharing was named as a significant feature in their attachment to the environment … Girls [interviewed] regularly spoke of the impact on their faith of older people … Most participation was initiated by adults.” (The Faith of Girls, 160)

The approach worked really, really well. The mix of visuals, personal story and ministry application provided multiple entry points. The use of eyes brought a stillness into the room and offered a reflective space. Those not used to engaging art found a strengthening of their skills in the simple invitation to look. The discussion wandered broad and wide, with a degree of honesty, challenge and humour. The four hours flew by.

Personally, it was quite moving, to be taken back into my story. I saw some patterns woven in. I also realised how these patterns continue to shape my current practice and vision. It was a contemplative, holy sort of day.

Posted by steve at 11:05 AM

Sunday, October 30, 2016

connecting, looking for partners in mission

I spent today bringing greetings from KCML to three Auckland Presbyterian churches: Taiwanese, Cantonese, English-speaking of Chinese descent. Since I was up in Auckland for meetings on Friday and Saturday, it seemed a great opportunity to stay on for an extra night and connect with parts of the Presbyterian church that perhaps have never been visited by a KCML Principal.

It was also an opportunity to seek partnerships. My hunch is that we as Knox and we as a Presbyterian church might need the cultural agility, entrepreneurial knack and cross-cultural skills that migrant congregations are likely to offer.

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Here is what I said, as I presented to each a gift – an artistic representation of the Knox Centre.

Nau mai, haure mai. Aku rangatira, tena kou

In Maori I greet you and honour your elders.

My name is Steve Taylor. I was born in Papua New Guinea. I’ve been a church planter and church minister here in New Zealand and Principal of a theological College in Australia. I am currently now the Principal of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership.

Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership is the theological college of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand. The Presbyterian church in New Zealand recognises 4 strands of ordained ministry

  • national ordained ministry
  • local ordained ministry
  • local ministry teams
  • Amorangi Maori ministry

On behalf of the Presbyterian church, Knox Centre train for all these 4 types of ordained ministry. We don’t do this alone. We do this in partnership with Presbyteries and local churches. We also do this in partnership with Te Wananga-a-rangi, the theological college of the Maori Synod of the the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

As part of my greeting I bring a gift. It is a picture of Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership. It has been painted by a local Dunedin artist, the husband of one of our lecturers.

gift

Knox has been training ministers for 139 years. We began in 1877. So next year we are 140 years old. We have much to thank God for, a rich and long heritage.

As a College, we look backward. We also look forward. We have a vision, a dream, a hope.

First, commitment to train diverse cultures. Knox has never, to my knowledge, trained a Chinese minister. We’ve trained Korean. We’ve trained Pacific Island. We’ve trained Tamil Indian. We’ve trained Maori. We’ve never trained a Chinese minister. So I ask you to pray with us. That God will use Knox to train leaders for all the cultures of New Zealand.

7seedlings

Second, we at Knox Centre have a commitment to plant new mission seedlings. According to the Presbyterian Church Book of Order; to be ordained is to be part of initiating creative trends in the witness of the Church. In order to train for that KCML is looking to plant new mission seedlings, places where creative Church Witness can be initiated.

I would suggest that here in Auckland is a great place to explore creative Church witness. Amid the super diversity of this city – so many opportunities. I offer this gift and I ask you to pray for us.

Pray that God will raise up Chinese to ordained leadership here in New Zealand. And pray that God will bless in the planting of New Mission Seedlings.

Posted by steve at 02:40 PM

Friday, October 21, 2016

Practising hope: gathered and scattered Ministers Resourcing day

As part of Presbyterian General Assembly, Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership has been asked to provide a day resourcing ministers. We want to engage the theme of General Assembly – hope for the world. We want to offer thoughtful and theological reflection on ministry practice, empirical research into how churches respond to tragedy as they gather and how we discern how Christ takes form in the world. We want to allow the rich range of voices in the church to be heard. So far, the registration response has been excellent.

Theme – Practising hope: gathered and scattered

9:00 am Welcome, introduction KCML team

9:15 am Plenary: Hope gathered. How do churches respond to hard stuff? How did PCANZ churches worship and pray as they gathered on Sunday, November 15, 2015 in light of major international events? Steve and Lynne Taylor will present findings from their research into 160 churches, to explore how churches respond in gathered worship to hard stuff. What was practiced? How was hope understood? What theologies of God in suffering were at work? What does this say about being church in the world today?

10:00 am Morning Groups: “What’s in your kete?” By “what’s in your kete?” we are asking various ministry practitioners to facilitate discussion both among the group but also by example. We are asking them to bring resources that they use for offering hope in the hard places of human experience. We want the question to also be a group question, allowing the group to bounce off each other and sharing best practice. If you have resources you have found important in nurturing hope in hard places, please bring them to share. Group presenters will include KCML Faculty and local practitioners.

12:00 Lunch

1:00pm Plenary: Christ Plays in 10,000 Places: Introductory Address and Panel. Mission conversations in churches frequently occur as an inside-out job. We speak of ‘reaching out’, or ‘taking the Gospel to’, or even ‘welcoming them in’. It assumes we as the church are the centre and the fixed point from which the action emanates. But what if mission is just as much an outside-in job and God is already in our communities and marketplaces, inviting us to join the action there. What if Christ the living Word is speaking and acting amidst the world for the sake of the world. Can we become discerners of Christ amidst the marketplace and neighbourhood, and in discerning this, how might we hear Christ speaking a word of freshness to our churches?

2.00pm Workshops
1. Developing a culture of discernment in your eldership. Rev Ed Masters (Rotorua District Parish Church)
2. Loving your neighbours and discovering God’s Mission Rev Sun Mi Lee (St Austells Uniting, Auckland)
3. Building the conditions for mission listening and innovation in a Presbytery Rev Darryl Tempero, (Kiwi-Church and Alpine Presbytery Mission Facilitator, Christchurch)
4. Young People detaching from Church: What mission questions does the Pacific experience raise? Rev Fei Taulealeausuami (Former CWM Pacific Secretary & PhD Student) & Rev Dr Tokerau Joseph, (First Church Otago)
5. Listening to our changing rural communities Rev Erin Pendreigh (Otago-Southland Synod Mission Facilitator) & Rev Andrew Harrex (Lawrence, South Otago)
6. Leadership processes for mission listening & innovating Rev Dr Steve Taylor (Principal KCML)
7. The new net goes fishing. Ministry in the water amongst millennials. Rev Dr Carolyn Kelly (Senior Chaplain, Auckland University) & Rev Dr Hyeeun Kim (Counsellor, Auckland University)
8. Discerning and following Christ in Suburb and City. Rev Dr Mark Johnston (KCML Auckland Coordinator)

3.15pm Afternoon Tea and book launch. In this 2016 year KCML Faculty have published a range of resources that offer significant resourcing for ministers. This includes a songbook, multiple creative worship resources and three books. Commissioning prayers will be offered as part of our concluding worship.

Posted by steve at 06:27 PM

Sunday, October 16, 2016

First communion: embodying a call?

Today was my first communion in a local Presbyterian church in New Zealand. I began at KCML a year ago this week. It involved a move from Australia to New Zealand and from the Uniting Church to the Presbyterian church.

I’ve shared communion in other settings within the Presbyterian church over this year, but not at a local church level. It is an interesting, albiet totally anecdotal reflection, on the place of this sacrament in Presbyterian life. I’ve also seen one baptism in a local Presbyterian church during this first year. Again, totally anecdotal, but it would suggest more of an emphasis on Word than Sacrament. And it does invite reflection on the impact on ecclesial formation – on the church and on myself as an individual. But that is for another post.

communion

What was wonderful was to share this first communion with Te Aka Puaho, the Maori Synod of the Presbyterian Church; to share it at Waimana, in the heart of Tuhoe nation; and to receive it from an Amorangi (Maori) minister in training.

It was a powerful reminder of the breadth of reach of the Presbyterian church in New Zealand; a reminder of the incredible gift that is Te Aka Puaho, reaching to stand in solidarity with communities and people that very few Pakeha will ever be able to engage; and their commitment as a Synod to raising of indigenous leadership.

The photo is worth reflecting on as a “visual” expression of belief, more specifically contextualised belief. The photos behind the pulpit are around the four walls of the church. They are there to express the church as living and breathing; not as a building. It allows reflection on people and events that shape the church. The colours (red, white and black) and patterns are Maori colours and patterns and express the connection with local communities and the people they serve.

door

We arrived early, but that was not a problem. A previous minister had set a policy in place: “The door will always be open.” The church should never be locked, should never be available on during worship.

My personality tends to find significance in events like this. My first local church communion is amongst tangata whenua, as a minority, being served as part of a process of indigenous leadership development. I would like to hope that says something about how God might be made present to me during this season of serving as Principal of KCML and how my time and energy, including my research (for example – Wanangha nai: a post-colonial indigenous atonement theology and Fiction as missiology: an indigenous Christology in Papua New Guinea), might need to be shaped.

Posted by steve at 05:01 PM

Thursday, October 13, 2016

New Mission seedlings: How could a church tend a seedling?

Initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness is part of what it means to be a Presbyterian minister, according to the Book of Order.

The ordinand is admitted to a fellowship responsible for the guardianship of the Gospel – a guardianship which must express itself in freshness and adaptability as the Church is led by Christ to do new things. The minister has not only the task of protecting the Church and the Gospel from error, but also, and particularly, the task of initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness. (Book of Order, Appendix D-4: Ordination and the Ministry of Word and Sacraments, (1966), (vii))

As a consequence, ministerial training needs to include opportunities, encouragement and training in innovation in mission. KMCL is working toward this aim in the birthing New Mission Seedlings. The aim is to establish in each Presbytery of the PCANZ a New Mission Seedling; seven throughout New Zealand over the next few years.

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Each seedling  involves a long term commitment to mission in a local community. They are sites for learning

  • for interns learning to lead in mission
  • for KCML as a learning community being shaped by the challenges of initiating creative trends
  • for churches and Presbyteries in mission, invited to partner in establishing new communities of faith
  • for the national church, given that each seedling is established to address a mission question the church nationally does not yet have an answer too. This will be facilitated by annual National Incubators, that share wisdom and stimulate good practice.

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In sharing this vision with a local group from a Presbytery, a minister asked an excellent question: Could we participate? We have folk who have skills? Is there some way they can participate? Can partnerships between NMS and local churches be fostered?

My immediate response was to think about the Presbyterian distinctive of shared decision-making. We look to shared processes of leadership rather than to bishops or charismatic individuals. This instinct should shape our approach to initiating creative trends in the Church’s witness. Denominationally, the question of how could a church help a seedling is in fact a deeply Presbyterian question that attends to the richness of our tradition.

A practical response is to note the following:

1 – Presence to ensure solidarity and enhance partnership – from the extreme of move into the area, through choosing to work in the area, joining a club or activity in the area; participating in a local school with reading. There are a range of ways to enter Incarnation, from full relocation, to a range of ways to be alongside.

2 – Gifts – There are a range of ways to participate in initiating creative trends present themselves

  • Finance – people could contribute (food, coffee, events, etc)
  • Service – commit to a team that experiments in ways to serve. This could be on a fortnightly pattern, or in key community events or linked to Christian festivals.
  • Prayer – gathering in the community to listen to God (pray and read Scripture) amid the patterns of the community
  • Specialisation – specific skills might be offered, for example chairing a local board meeting, teach te reo. These involve taking an individual skill and offering it, ideally in ways the express both competency and solidarity.

3. Seasons – this speaks to both length and in timing. You don’t move plants in summer but in winter. So there are seasons in the sending church to discern, that involve the state of the community and vitality of practice. This also applies individually. A person in a demanding season of work has less to give than the season following children having left home.  A season by nature has an ending.  Always invite folk to participate for a season and then to review.

These thoughts could apply to a local church. They could also apply to a Presbytery, given that being presbyterian is about shared mission. Local churches and Presbyteries can be visited, the mission shared and folk invited to participate for a season, in a range of ways as listed above. Will you consider offering yourself for a year, to participate in six prayer walks; or one community festival or a year of listening to children read in a local school?

Each person that participates at the end of their season, faces a choice. To renew their commitment? Or to return to their sending church? Either way, the season of shared mission has exposed them to incarnational and contextual mission. They are richer. They church will be richer. In doing so, we are making another statement.

We are declaring that initiating creative trends is a body practice. It refuses to rely on amazingly gifted people. Instead, together, in partnerships, it finds multiple ways to participate in the mission of God. This is some of the thinking that lies behind New Mission Seedlings at KCML.

Posted by steve at 06:59 PM

Monday, September 19, 2016

New Mission Seedlings: 1/5th of what I’m currently working on

This pictures expresses 1/5th of the KCML Strategic plan. It is shaped by one insight: that the best place to train for mission is on mission.

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To quote Andrew Norton, Moderator of the PCANZ, “The Presbyterian Church Of Aotearoa is at a very critical time and desperately needs the development of leadership at every level in the church and more particularly in the creation of new and innovative forms of ministry in our changing times – we can not continue business as usual.”

KCML is thus looking to work in collaboration with a range of partners across New Zealand to establish New Mission Seedlings as places to learn in mission. This involves training leaders by engaging in local mission in order to attend to national priorities.

The strategic priority of New Mission Seedlings has been shaped by

  • KCML team retreats in December and March
  • external input from key stakeholders within the Presbyterian Church
  • discussion of drafts with Assembly Executive Secretary, KCML Advisory Board, Leadership Sub-committee, Presbyterian Development Society, a joint Leadership Sub-committee/PressGo/KCML working group, Northern Presbytery Council
  • pieces with Pacific leaders, Central and Alpine Presbytery, South Island Ministers, 150th Synod, Press Go Board
  • the 5 parts of the KCML strategic plan were “strongly endorsed” by Leadership Sub-committee in May
  • “enthusiastically endorsed” by Council of Assembly in June
  • received with excitement by Synod of Otago and Southland executive in July

Last week I reduced the pages of written documentation and powerpoint slides to one picture. That’s part of what I’ve been working on recently.

Posted by steve at 09:29 AM

Sunday, August 28, 2016

inspiring individually, really helpful theologically: Built for Change review

builtforchange Here is a fifth review of Built for Change. This one is by Duncan Macleod. Duncan is Director of the Uniting Learning Network with the Uniting Church in Australia. He is also editor of The Inspiration Room, a website focused on creative work from around globe.

Two things I appreciate about this review. First, the evaluation of the second section, Leading Deeply as offering “a really helpful reflection” on a theology of leadership and innovation, particularly for the mainline denomination in which Duncan serves. Second, my approach in the third section, Leading Inward as being inspired/ing. Duncan reads my highly personalised approach as an invitation – “Rather than comparing myself with my colleagues, I need to grasp the particular contribution God is developing in me in relationship with my peers.” My highly individualised approach becomes “a great way to finish … inspire and inform … without prescribing or limiting.” It felt risky and vulnerable writing the way I did and its a relief to have Duncan’s feedback on how this approach inspires.

Here is the review in full: thanks Duncan.

Steve’s first section, Leading Outward, introduces six images of leadership as found in Paul’s self descriptions in 1 Corinthians 3 and 4: a servant who listens, a resource manager who faces reality, a builder who structures collaborative processes, a fool who jumps out of boxes and plays, and a parent who parents. Steve tells the stories of three innovative projects made possible through collaborative leadership: Glenkirk Cafe in Malvern, Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross, Sydney, and the Illustrated Gospel Project, a worship resource curated by Malcolm Gordon. He goes on to explore Lewin’s force field, experimentation, the change curve, and the importance of tacking.

The second section, Leading Deeply, delves into a theology of leadership, drawing insight from the ministry of Jesus and exploring the healthy tension between Biblical frameworks and contemporary insights into collaborative leadership. This is a really helpful reflection for the Uniting Church, which in many ways has its roots in movements that were highly suspicious of any one person having too much influence. It’s not that long ago that focusing on transformation, leadership and missional challenge were seen by some as the latest heresy. Steve’s contribution to the conversation helps us recognise some of our own biases and come more lightly to a considered theological reflection on leadership and innovation.

The third section, Leading Inward, provides insights into Steve’s own exploration of collaborative leadership and innovation, including lessons learnt and practices honed. This, perhaps, is the section that inspired me the most. Steve has run a series of C words in this section: call, colour, connection, community. Working in a very similar role to Steve, I resonated with his reflections on the importance of call. “What is in your hand? What among your gifts, talents and experience is of value to the organisations to which you contribute?” Having just gone through my annual vitality of ministry review this week, it’s a pertinent question. Rather than comparing myself with my colleagues, I need to grasp the particular contribution God is developing in me in relationship with my peers. I gathered inspiration for practical daily and weekly disciplines as I read through the way Steve manages to achieve what he does.

Steve finishes with a chapter on reflective leadership, focusing on four tools: journaling, the leading of meetings, breath prayer and the art of asking the question, “What could I do differently”. That last question is a great way to finish, helping us as readers to recognise Steve’s pattern of work and life as his particular journey of learning, which can inspire and inform our own without prescribing or limiting.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here. Review 4 is here.

Posted by steve at 04:25 PM

Monday, August 22, 2016

makes good sense: the mother-in-law reviews Built for Change

builtforchange Here is another review of Built for Change, this one by my mother-in-law.

During the past month I had more time than usual for reading and I found Steve Taylor’s new book very interesting. “Built for Change” is, as it says, “a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership.” The words “Collaboration in leadership” grabbed me because I don’t see “collaborating” as something Christians always find easy to do. It seems easy to be excited by something we believe God is saying to us individually but often much harder to really listen to others and work together.

Quoting from 1 Corinthians, Chapters 3 and 4, Steve describes Paul’s leadership as combining the attributes of servant, gardener, builder, resource manager, fool and parent. I wondered how exercising those attributes could be a key to making collaboration and innovation successful and I was encouraged to read on. Steve describes how he has used Paul’s ministry as a model for building team leadership over the past few years in Australia and now in Otago. What he has to say makes good sense and his book is full of rich and innovative ideas.

“Built for Change” by Rev Dr Steve Taylor is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here. Review 2 here. Review 3 here.

Posted by steve at 12:36 PM

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Built for change: review by John Littleton for South Australian Anglicans

builtforchange Another review of my latest book Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership. This one was initially sent to Anglicans in South Australia.

Dear friends, I bring Steve Taylor’s new book to your attention and commend it. I enjoyed the holistic, collaborative and theologically reflective leadership demonstrated in this book. The book is a challenging and rewarding read. Careful reading provides evidence of a reflective practitioner at work. An account of adaptive leadership in practice is combined with a connectional theology of leadership and an analysis of Jesus the innovator as reported in the Gospels. The word innovation takes on a “Christological shape.” Chapter 8 is entitled “Leading myself” and introduces a section on practical and personal leadership strategies. The book shares stories and offers insight into a personal spirituality of change.

Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership explores the six strengths that change requires, and demonstrates that collaborative change is both practical and possible. Steve wrote ‘Built for Change’ around the concluding of his placement as Principal of Uniting College in the Adelaide College of Divinity in 2015 and transitioning into his new role as Principal for Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin, New Zealand.

“Built for Change” is available in Australia through MediaCom Education Inc. or New Zealand through Angelwingsresources@gmail.com.

Review 1 here;

Posted by steve at 09:31 AM

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Built for change: review by Peter Overton

bookcover On Facebook Peter Overton has just posted a (lovely) review of my latest book Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership.

This is the book to read, re read, reflect, buy for leadership teams, read, re read, reflect. It’s not a quick fix, it’s adaptive leadership and way more. It’s the story of adaptive leadership in practice and much more. He uses image of Servant/listener, Gardener, Builder, Resource Manager Fool and Parent to unpack Adaptive leadership in I Cor 3 and 4 and applies this to National Church Life Survey. I have already done a Elders/leaders seminar for another Church using the models in this book and it really connected with them, we meet again in Six months to review progress. This by the way was in preparation for a new placement coming in 2017 to the Church so in my words they can be built for Change. Congratulations Steve Taylor.

Built for Change: a practical theology of innovation and collaboration in leadership explores the 6 strengths that change requires, and demonstrates that collaborative change is both practical and possible. Steve wrote ‘Built for Change’ around the concluding of his placement at Uniting College and transitioning into his new role as Principal for Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership in Dunedin, New Zealand. The book shares stories, provides theological reflection on Jesus the innovator and offers insight into a personal spirituality of change.

Built for change is now available in Australia and New Zealand. NZ orders via this page. Australia orders to mediacom dot Org dot Au.

Posted by steve at 10:02 PM

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Innovation as a body practice nourished by the Prodigal Son

innovation I spoke this morning at Central Presbytery, providing a keynote session on the topic of innovation as a body practice. It was a chance to continue to develop my thinking around being a church body built for change. With the final edits on my Built for Change book complete, each time I speak at the moment is a chance to try and take what is 53,000 written words and shape it into a spoken presentation. It is also a chance to explore the place of innovation and ministry within the Presbyterian Church, in particular their essential documents.

Before I talked, there was a short time of worship, followed by a Biblical reflection on the Prodigal Son. I was not aware of it in preparing and it was fascinating to stand to speak on my chosen topic, with that Scripture fresh in all our minds. The result was that there were two moments in my talk when what was said in the prior Biblical reflection became incredibly helpful.

First, in defining body practice. I had prepared to rift off John Swinton and Harriett Mowat (Practical Theology and Qualitative Research), and their insights on the shape of practical theology. But in reflecting on the Prodigal Son, the Bible study leader pointed to how the Prodigal Son, is given a ring, a robe and sandals. These, it was suggested, were physical symbols that would have helped the Prodigal Son understand their new identity. The statement was made:

“God’s gifts that help us see ourselves differently.”

It became an illuminating and helpful phrase. Body practices – confession, hospitality, discernment, listening to the stranger – begin with God, they are gifts. Body practices are about us; about how the church is the body of Christ. Body practices are things we do, and in that doing, we see ourselves differently. Thus they allow a theology on the road, a call to practice our way into God’s future and in doing so, expect to ourselves be changed.

Secondly, in reflecting on the Prodigal Son, the difference between shame and blessing was discussed. The Prodigal Son feels shame and as such, is likely to behave in certain ways. In contrast, as the Prodigal Son feels blessed, they are invited to behave differently.

This became a very helpful frame by which to consider how the church responds to change. What does a place of shame look like? Oh, we tried that before. Oh, I remember you from the past. Oh that wouldn’t work. What does a place of blessing look like? Welcome. Take a risk. Experience grace.

It was a rich experience to be able to work with innovation in the light of the Prodigal Son. It provided a fresh lens and opened up a rich set of conversations around people and processes in change.

Posted by steve at 01:12 PM